The Zen of Purpose

One of my favorite sayings comes from the bible Ecclesiastes 3:1-8…

“To everything a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…”

As the year winds down and daylight wanes with winter, I start thinking more about my purpose in life.  Purpose gives one reason to get up in the morning.  It’s a use of time that contributes to others, yourself, and/or the earth. Having purpose is less subject to change than having goals.  Goals are embedded within purpose. For example, if my purpose is to be a writer, publishing a book might be a goal.  One of my purposes is to help the environment. A goal to accomplish that is to establish a native plant garden on my property which I’m currently working on.

Purpose can be multifaceted and can change with life stages.  Before it was fairly simple- survive my middle school teaching job, be a good mother, and hang onto my creative outlets as best I could in the process.  Living a purposeful life has become murkier as I’ve retired and my son is raised and out of the house.  I am more in control of my life than before so it’s up to my discretion to figure it out rather than have it be molded by outside circumstances.  This can be a daunting task and I’ve had to be intentional about it.

Now as I age I set my purpose to maintain my health, stay connected to nature, stay connected with family and friends, help with environmental causes, and keep my many creative pursuits going while sharing them with others. I post a little diagram of purpose along with some goals on my dry-erase board so it is easily seen and adjusted if need be (I’m one of those people that needs a visual).

Life is complicated. When I feel lost my visual acts as my GPS, keeps me on track ,and my spirit grounded.  It answers that question- uh, what exactly am I doing here?

Illustrations by the author

Please also check out my bog on sustainability at

7 thoughts on “The Zen of Purpose

  1. I love the boat image! Being on course does mean having to steer in different directions. I’ve struggled with purpose after years of teaching. But while I can’t perform any music like you ( I wish!) I’ve been able to volunteer usher for the county.. Waiting for a high school choral & instrumental concert. Last night was Moulin Rouge! Hope you are well! I think of you often… 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That all sounds wonderful to me. Whatever is fulfilling as good. I found it odd after I retired that all that freedom was a rather scary. It took me a long time to find my groove. Thanks for keeping in touch Cathy!


  2. I feel so connected with you, Alanna. I, too, was a middle school teacher for a while before moving into some other careers. And a mother whose children are all grown and living on their own. And I, too, have found purpose in pursuing creative outlets, connecting with other “artists” and doing my part in loving the earth. Thank you for this post. This connection with you is inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

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